The overwhelming question facing the United States healthcare system during the 21st century is how we will accommodate the increasing cultural diversity of our patient population. This new demographic makeup will challenge this country, its citizens and its healthcare institutions to accommodate the patients who represent every corner of the world, as well as every language, culture and religious belief.
More than just a buzzword, diversity is important to the success of respiratory therapists as we deliver care to our patients. We as respiratory therapists must grapple with the issue of diversity. In today’s society it means respiratory therapists will see patients that vary in gender, race, and creed passing through our hospital and clinic doors. We must become culturally competent to treat those patients with language barriers and cultural misunderstandings that have the potential of decreasing the quality of communication between patients and ultimately the quality of care those patients receive.
Respiratory therapists should be able to understand how to effectively evaluate their patients by becoming culturally competent. Why?
- 287 million people are predicted to be living the United States by 2050, a 124 million increase.
- The Hispanic population will increase from nine percent to 25 percent of the population.
- The Asian population will increase from three percent to eight percent of the population.
- The African American population will increase from 12 percent to 14 percent of the population.
- The non-Hispanic white population will decrease from 75 percent of the total population to 50 percent.
We, as respiratory therapists, must take an active role in becoming culturally competent. We are patient focused caregivers, now let us be focused and provide culturally competent care to our patients. As an organization, the AARC values and embraces equal opportunity, and promotes the use of personal and cultural backgrounds to enhance the respiratory therapy profession. Please read the AARC’s Position Statement on Cultural Diversity and Inclusion.
The Diversity Committee maintains the resources on this website. If you have information that you would like to add, please contact Doug Laher.